A. Execute the tool from the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment program folder. Upon execution, you'll click Next on the wizard's introduction screen, then enter a name for a new inventory database (or select an existing one), then click Next. The wizard presents you with options for finding clients. To find computers in workgroups or Windows NT 4.0 domains, you must select "Use the Windows networking protocols." If you have Active Directory (AD), also select "Use Active Directory Domain Services." Select the "Check Microsoft.com for updates" check box so that the system downloads updated hardware-compatibility information. Ensure that "Generate a hardware assessment report" is selected, then click Next.

The tool will now perform a scan of the network. If there are any domains/workgroups listed that you don't want scanned, select the line and delete the text. To add an additional domain/workgroup, press Tab to create a new line. Once all domains/workgroups are listed, click Next. If you're also using AD, the system will prompt you for the name of the domain to be queried and the required credentials, along with the option to find all computers in the forest and not just in the selected domain. When you're done, click Next.

The next step requests an account that has rights to remotely connect to each computer, such as a Domain Administrator account or an account that is known to be a local administrator (which Domain Administrator will be for a domain-joined machine). Add an account by clicking New Account, and enter the account details. When an account is added, you can select to use for all computers or only selected computers. Once accounts are added, click Next.

A summary of actions to be performed will appear. Click Start to begin the inventory. After the report is generated, a dialog box will be displayed, giving a link to the report folder and displaying a summary of the report generation, which shows details about why computers weren't listed, such as firewall or blocking, authentication failures, and so on.

By default, the reports are saved to C:\Users\(user)\Documents\Windows Vista Hardware Assessment\Reports\VistaReady. The two saved documents are VistaReady Report (date and time), an Excel spreadsheet, and VistaReady Summary (date and time), a Word document. The Word document gives information in both textual and graphical format of the counts of machines that will run Vista, those that would benefit from hardware upgrades, and even the type of hardware required. Other hardware on the machine is shown, including information about whether the driver is part of the Vista media, part of Windows Update, or needed from the hardware vendor. Applications on the machines are reported. The Excel spreadsheet gives details about the clients and servers, along with the reason each known machine couldn't be inventoried, where appropriate.